by James Canada
Customer Satisfaction is driven by our ability to meet customers’ “must-have” requirements. But how can you do that if you don’t know what those requirements are?
We previously mentioned five ways to identify customer requirements—now let’s dig into each of these and determine which methods, or combination of methods, might work best for you.
Informal Interview: The informal interview is simply asking questions and listening to the answers. A salesman in the field will constantly gather information about the customer’s requirements. If your customer is another department in your company, you might hear about their requirements over lunch or in a meeting.
Formal Interview: Unlike the informal interview, the formal Interview is a preplanned set of questions for the customer, who is aware you are trying to improve service. Then you can ask detailed follow-up questions that will pinpoint their requirements.
Survey: A formal interview, typically conducted over the phone or in writing. Unlike a formal interview, surveys lack flexibility—there’s no chance for follow-up. They can also be inefficient, because customers may not get around to responding.
Focused Group: Questions are asked to a group of 8-10 people, or to an individual in the group, and everybody is free to comment. Customers respond to both the question and the opinions of other customers. If you have many customers, focused group interviews are not a stand-alone solution. But they can be effective for either following up on survey results or formulating future survey questions.
Customer Complaint Analysis: Customer complaints can be a gold mine of information about what the customer wants—they are bright red flags that a specific requirement is not being met.
Obviously, you don’t have to pick one method—often a combination of methods will be most effective. Just pick the easiest approach that will work for you and apply it.
James H. Canada is managing partner/CEO for Alliance Technologies LLC, ITEN mentor and author of “Corporate to Entrepreneur: Strategies for Success.” Contact Jim at email@example.com, 636-734-2337 or www.alliancetechnologiesllc.com.